Ecosystem Goods and Services in the Columbia Basin

Long-term sustainability of the Columbia River and its communities depends on ecosystem function. This study reports best estimates of current and future values.

When decision makers undervalue the benefits we derive from nature, they underestimate the full costs to society of converting natural resources to uses that destroy or degrade natural capital. Recognition of the benefits of ecosystem goods and services (EGS) by policy makers is therefore an important step in formulating effective natural resources policy that is designed to benefit all other aspects of society and nature.

To help develop a better understanding of the benefits of ecosystems, this study reports best estimates of some of the current and future values of EGS in the US portion of the Columbia Basin, a 670,800 square-kilometer area of land drained by the Columbia River that spans parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, using data and techniques available at this time.